The Importance of Self-Talk

Self-talk, the way in which we speak to ourselves. The way that we speak to ourselves is extremely important, it sets us up for the relationships that we enter, provides us with the basis for the treatment we allow in our lives, and impacts how we believe we deserve to be spoken to, and treated by others. Overall, our self-talk impacts our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with others.

If we are in the habit of speaking to ourselves in a harsh manner, and we interact with people who speak to us harshly and with disrespect it becomes difficult to delineate between what is healthy vs. unhealthy. Thus, rude talk seems “normal” because it is something we are accustomed to, and we read it as something that just is, and not something that doesn’t have to be a part of our life.

Our self-talk can either sink us into a dark abyss, or build us up to radiant sunshine. With each statement we choose to speak, even if it is within our own mind, is a decision nonetheless. We can make the decision to be demeaning, or the decision to approach ourselves with kindness and understanding. I say opt for kindness and understanding, your inner child will thank you!

A hurdle to overcome when people are already stuck in a negative headspace is when others speak about them in a negative way too, because it then becomes “evidence for” the negative thought(s) that the person has in regards to themselves. Which puts the person back in a negative spiral, and causes them to believe that the negative thoughts are accurate and factual. However, negativity does not have to be the self-talk that encompasses your life. When we speak to ourselves with kindness and respect, we are more aware of when people are being disrespectful, crossing our boundaries, or are being unhealthy in nature. This awareness leads to having a healthier view of us, and having healthier interpersonal relationships.

Now, changing the way that we speak to ourselves when negativity has overrun our lives can be a battle in itself. It is trying to fight against the old, with new ways of thinking that seem so unnatural. Now, what I am going to say next people hear often, but I am going to say it anyways, it gets easier the more and more you do it! You start off not believing the healthy, positive thought because of old neural pathways, but the more that you do it you are allowing yourself to create new neural pathways that lead to healthier thinking patterns. You are teaching your brain to work in a way that better serves you. One thing I caution clients with, is that for a while the initial negative thought may be the first thought that comes to mind in any given moment, but you get to a place where you are able to reframe it, challenge it, and not let it ruin your day. Your healthier thoughts get stronger, and ultimately win the self-talk match. You win a better relationship with yourself, your mind, and a better relationship with others.

Before the change can happen:

  • Start with identifying when negative talk is operating, because awareness is the beginning of change.

  • Lessen the severity of judgment; turn that negative thought into a neutral one.

  • Approach yourself with understanding.

  • Reframe when needed.

  • Speak kindly to yourself, and think about your inner child (it easier to be nice to a kid).

Watch your language go from:

“I’m horrible” to “I don’t know everything” to “I am learning and I don’t have to be perfect.”

We are products of our self-talk, so remember speak kindly to yourself, because you are listening.